Is it time to redesign your office space? There are lots of factors to think about when creating the perfect work environment. Practicality should always come before aesthetics – there’s no use having an office that looks pretty but has a negative impact on productivity. Of course, that isn’t to say that a practical workplace can’t still look stylish. Here are just a few ways to get the balance between practicality and style right, whether you’re redesigning your current space or moving into a new property altogether.
Let there be light
A good level of lighting is important as not to cause eye strain. If your office is too dim, employees could be getting headaches staring at a bright screen. Mood is also affected by brightness – we generally feel happier in a well-lit environment.
Adding more artificial light is the simplest way to brighten your office up. This could include adding some extra lamps around the room. Alternatively, you could upgrade your overhead lighting such as adding extra panel lights or track lighting. LED bulbs are often the brightest and are also more energy-efficient than regular bulbs, so consider switching to LEDs if you haven’t already.
You can also brighten the office up by making use of natural light. This may be costlier as it could involve adding extra windows (skylights are the perfect option for letting more natural light in). Take care when removing obstructions from your windows – whilst this can let in more light, it can make it easier for people to look into your office, which could pose a security risk unless you have tinted glass.
You may also want to consider repainting the walls with a bright colour to help reflect light. High-gloss paints are the best for reflecting light and are also often the easiest to clean.
Cut down on clutter
Too much clutter can make an office feel cramped and disorganised, negatively affecting concentration. Think about going more minimal and getting rid of items you don’t need. Consider looking into bin hire – this can be a good incentive as it forces you to throw away things so that the hired bin gets its usage.
Going paperless is a great way to clear up space. It’s also eco-friendly and can save you money. You can scan any physical documents you have in order to create digital copies and then get rid of the physical copies. This could allow you to get rid of entire filing cabinets and shelves full of paperwork. Going paperless also reduces the need to have appliances such as printers and scanners. You can even outsource a company to collect your physical mail before scanning it and emailing the copies to you, cutting down on your need to keep hold of letters and documents that have been posted to you. On top of this, you can embrace e-books as a way of freeing up space taken up by physical literature.
Going green can have lots of benefits such as saving you money and improving your company’s reputation. Doing away with paper is just one way to become an eco-friendlier business. You can also look into desks made out of reclaimed materials and encourage staff to recycle their waste by placing a recycling bin in the office.
There may also be ways of cutting down on your energy consumption such as insulating the office or upgrading your old power-hungry appliances to newer cleaner ones. A smart energy meter could be worth installing to let you know exactly how much your spending on energy as you’re using it. You could even go off-grid altogether and opt for a sustainable power source such as solar power. Whilst solar panels can cost quite a bit to install, you’ll make your money back on them by never having to pay an electricity bill again. You can even run your heating off solar power, although this could require installing a lot of solar panels.
Good communication is key in a business. More companies are opting for an open plan layout rather than having cubicles – it’s cheaper and does make communication between employees much easier. When it comes to communication with clients, make sure that there are enough phones within the office so that everyone has one in reach. A cloud phone service could be cheaper than having multiple phones connected to a landline, especially if you’ve got lots of employees.
When it comes to meetings, make sure that you have a suitable space in which everyone can gather around. You may even want to consider a projector or digital screen to save people having to congregate around a small computer screen when displaying data. You can help inspire meeting topics by setting up a whiteboard in the office which employees can write down queries and issue they’re experiencing.
As much as you want to encourage conversation, you may also want to have moments of concentration. The drawback of an open office is that employees can get distracted. One solution could be to have a private work zone on top of an open plan zone – those that need the concentration can work here, whilst those doing general work can stay in the open plan zone (it depends largely on the nature of your work as to how much concentration/communication you need).
There are lots of other ways that you can increase concentration. Loud noises can often be distracting so consider opting for low-noise tech where possible and considering glass that blocks out noise for private meeting rooms or for exterior windows if you’re based in a busy and noisy area. Good ventilation can also keep the place oxygenated, whilst plants have also been observed to help boost concentration.
Considering ergonomics can improve productivity by making your office a more comfortable and practically designed space. It can also prevent RSIs (repetitive strain injuries) developing in the future.
Think carefully about the position of the desks – be careful of placing a desk in the corner of a room where there may not be enough legroom or elbow room. You can also make life easier for you and your employees by opting for cordless phones, keyboards and mice that offer more free movement. Desks with adjustable heights and ergonomic office chairs can also improve comfort.
Use colour correctly
Different colours can have practical psychological benefits. Monochrome colour schemes have long been used in offices – whilst these can improve brightness and create a sense of clean organisation, many people can find black and white dull and demotivating. Think about adding a splash of colour here and there to help inspire people. Blue can be a good calming colour that is good for concentration perfect accountancy firms and counselling companies, whilst red is an energising colour that’s good for areas where physical work is carried out such as store cupboards or sales call centres. Green meanwhile has been found to inspire creativity and is great for meeting rooms and companies involved in marketing and design.
Health and safety is an important factor to consider when designing your office. When it comes to fire safety, it’s important to keep the fire escape clear of clutter. A fire extinguisher should also be easily accessible.
Make sure that any hazards are removed where possible. This could be something as simple as a rip in the carpet which could pose as a trip hazard or a desk with a sharp corner. There may also be hidden hazards worth looking into such as dangerous substances in the walls, radon leaks and deteriorating piping and wiring in old buildings. A health and safety inspector may be able to help spot these hazards, potentially preventing future incidents.
If a hazard can’t be removed, you may be able to safeguard against it by putting up signage warning people of the dangers. This could include a ‘mind you head’ sign above a low doorway or a ‘caution hot water’ sign by a tap – some of these dangers may be obvious, but you should still point them out to protect yourself legally in the event someone gets hurt and want to sue you.
Security is also important. Whilst much of this can be done digital, there may still be some physical forms of security worth implementing such as adding a burglar alarm or a safe for storing sensitive documents or cash. You can also add features to deter burglars such as exterior motion sensing lighting, CCTV cameras and tinted windows to stop thieves from peering in.
Treat your employees
It could be worth also adding a few luxuries and home comforts as a way of treating your employees. Happier employees are likely to be more productive, so long as these luxuries aren’t distracting. One way of treating your employees could be to buy a premium coffee machine so that your employees have more than instant coffee. You could also allow employees the freedom to personalise their desks with personal belongings. Some offices have even set up leisure areas for their employees to use when on their break – this area could include a TV, couches and even games. Leisure areas should be placed away from general work areas so that they’re not a distraction.